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Comment: Re:Fire him (Score 1) 1113

by Sparky McGruff (#41574221) Attached to: US House Science Committee Member: Evolution Is a Lie From Hell
The question isn't "Can you prove creationism". It's "What evidence would you accept that would DISprove creationism." There are lots of things that could be found that would cause us to throw huge chunks of evolutionary theory in the trash heap. I can't imagine that a "young earth creationist" would ever tell you that any evidence would make them change their mind. If it's impossible to disprove, then any argument is a waste of time.

Comment: Re:Extreme News Flash! (Score 1) 167

There are multiple genetic factors that are strongly linked to Autism. That's not really a huge debate in the field. None of the factors are absolute: they don't guarantee the occurrence of autism, instead, they are associated with increased risk.

This isn't a novelty in the psychiatric genetics world. The same holds true for schizophrenia, depression and other mood disorders, and most other brain disorders for that matter. It is likely that this has to do with an interaction between disease genes and environmental factors, other genetic factors, or with stochastic (random) processes.

It's not that different than most other complex diseases. For example, you may carry a risk allele for heart disease. If you follow the right diet, and have a blissful, stress-free life, you might be in luck. But, if you're carrying a second risk allele (whoops!), or down a few too many Big Macs... that risk allele will bite you in the ass. For that matter, even if you do take care of yourself, that risk allele may still bite you in the ass. It's an odds game, and each risk factor makes the odds that much worse.

As for your "experiment that everyone conveniently chooses to forget"-- there's an extensive literature of twins with Autism. It also shows that there is a strong genetic component, but it's not absolute. The concordance of Autism in twins is extremely high -- but not absolute. However, even identical twins have significant differences -- yes, even genetically. And, even though they may share the same womb, they may have siginficant differences in fetal nutrition (depending on how the placenta is located), and they may be subject to different gestational stresses or birth trauma.

In other words -- nobody's conveniently forgetting anything.
Role Playing (Games)

Building a Gary Gygax Memorial 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the die-20-in-the-sky dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like approval to build a memorial to E. Gary Gygax has been granted in Lake Geneva City, Wisconsin. The Gygax Memorial Fund is still taking donations for the memorial that may begin construction as early as later this year. I (like many on Slashdot) spent many years of my youth using Gygax inspired creations as an excuse to socialize, roll dice, and eat chips at impromptu gatherings before computers intruded on the RPG realms."

Comment: Re:Science? (Score 2) 453

by Sparky McGruff (#34738290) Attached to: Why Published Research Findings Are Often False

Or, to put it more charitably, medicine and psychology are far describing far more complex phenomenon than we like to admit.

For example, in psychiatric genetics, there are dozens of articles every year that find a new gene associated with a common and important condition (e.g. autism, schizophrenia, depression). After each new finding comes out, there are dozens of labs that try to replicate that finding, usually one or two replicate (or partially replicate) the finding, and five or six don't replicate it. Why is it so hard to replicate these findings? Probably because there are really dozens of independent genes that contribute to these complex disorders (probably in combination with each other), and some populations tend to have mutations in one set, while other populations tend to have mutations in another set.

We're moving towards understanding, but the disorders are far more complex than the assumption that there will be a single cause.

Comment: Re:I kinda agree with him (Score 1) 1153

by Sparky McGruff (#34085526) Attached to: How Much Math Do We Really Need?
Why stop with Calculus? The path of modern medicine is being decided by people who can't tell a stem cell from a potato, or tell the difference between genes and jeans. We have epidemics of diseases that were largely eradicated because people aren't getting vaccinations. And we have lawmakers and voters deciding on nuclear energy and chemical waste disposal who haven't the slightest idea about what they're deciding. Calculus won't help that.

Comment: Re:Not much literature either (Score 1) 1153

by Sparky McGruff (#34085286) Attached to: How Much Math Do We Really Need?
I don't know about the deep meta-analysis, but I agree that scientific papers use many of the same skills as literature. Having written more than my fair share of published scientific papers, and having been on the other side as a reviewer quite a few times, I can't stress how important it is that a manuscript needs to tell a damn story. It needs to have a point, and each paragraph needs to sell the reader on that idea. Perhaps it's not Dickens, but a paper that doesn't tell a story that the reader can follow ends up on the scrap heap in a hurry.
Science

Researchers Find a 'Liberal Gene' 841

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-the-flame-war-begin dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Liberals may owe their political outlook partly to their genetic make-up, according to new research from the University of California, San Diego, and Harvard University. Ideology is affected not just by social factors, but also by a dopamine receptor gene called DRD4. The study's authors say this is the first research to identify a specific gene that predisposes people to certain political views."

Comment: Re:The Rain Mouse? (Score 2, Interesting) 259

by Sparky McGruff (#33626596) Attached to: Deleting Certain Gene Makes Mice Smarter
There are plenty of brain issues that aren't well modeled in mice, such as anything involving the prefrontal cortex (the front of the brain, where most of the higher-order thoughts reside). Mice just don't really have a true prefrontal cortex, which is where we do much of our higher-order thinking. The cousin of this gene, RGS4, showed up as a candidate gene for schizophrenia; mice lacking the gene are largely unaffected. The same case is true for most mouse models of psychiatric disorders, for that matter.

Also, there's not that much literature on RGS14 at this point (it doesn't seem to have come up in any of the GWAS -- wide scale genome association studies) for psychiatric disorders, but it has been identified in molecular studies as a target of P53 (a central cancer regulatory mechanism). It would not be out of the question for this knockout to have a significant increase in cancer risk (brain or elsewhere), but not have this detected in a small-scale study.

+ - SPAM: Researchers find key stem cells for eating and sex 1

Submitted by GWMAW
GWMAW (1434031) writes "New research, published in the journal Development, by Dr. Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, professor of Pharmacology & Physiology and director of the newly formed GW Institute for Neuroscience, and his colleagues have identified the stem cells that generate three critical classes of nerve cells – olfactory receptors (ORNs), vomeronasal (VRNs) and gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons – that are responsible for enabling animals and humans, to eat, interact socially and reproduce."
Programming

Simpler "Hello World" Demonstrated In C 582

Posted by kdawson
from the non-obfuscated dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Wondering where all that bloat comes from, causing even the classic 'Hello world' to weigh in at 11 KB? An MIT programmer decided to make a Linux C program so simple, she could explain every byte of the assembly. She found that gcc was including libc even when you don't ask for it. The blog shows how to compile a much simpler 'Hello world,' using no libraries at all. This takes me back to the days of programming bare-metal on DOS!"
Music

RIAA Insists On 3rd Trial In Thomas Case 280

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Not satisfied with the reduced $54,000 verdict which the Judge allowed it in Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset, representing approximately 6500 times the amount of their actual damages, the RIAA has decided to take its chances on a third trial, at which it could only win a verdict that is equal to, or less than, $54,000. Since a 3rd trial in and of itself makes no economic sense, and since the RIAA's lawyers inappropriately added 7 pages of legal argument to their 'notice', it can only be assumed that the reason they are opting for a 3rd trial is to hope that they can somehow bait the Judge into making an error that will help them on an appeal."

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